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Factory Girls Extract 4

In 2001, Adidas initiated a program called Lean Manufacturing to increase efficiency and reduce waste at Yue Yuen. Workers say that while they work shorter hours now, the time on the line is more stressful; tasks are parceled out precisely and there is almost no downtime. Assembly lines have been restructured into small teams so workers can switch tasks every few days, whereas before they might have done the same job for months at a time. This makes production more flexible, but it is exhausting for the workers. Also in the name of efficiency, living arrangements have been reshuffled so workers live with their assembly-line colleagues rather than with their friends. The accelerating pace of the global fashion cycle increases the pressure. A decade ago, the big athletic-show brands gave factories ninety days from receiving an order to delivering a product; several years ago it was sixty days, and now it is thirty days. Orders are getting smaller, to allow for a rapid response when fashions change, and workers live inside this unpredictable cycle. Only on Thursday does their boss tell them if they must work overtime on Saturday. During busy times, the sole department runs double shifts; employees take turns working the day shift one month and the night shift the next, their internal clocks scrambled and their bodies struggling to catch up. Executives say that the demands of the market have only made Yue Yuen better. "If we didn't have pressure, we wouldn't improve," says Allen Lee. "As Darwin said, only the strongest survive." An Adidas study found that workers initially felt stress from the Lean Manufacturing program, but over time, the study said, they got used to it.


Source Adidas lean manufacturing programme.
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